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Fetzer Looks To Make Its Mark At The High End

October 22, 2019

Concha y Toro-owned Fetzer Vineyards is the 12th-largest wine marketer in the U.S., with volume of nearly 4 million cases across its portfolio of South American and California brands, according to Impact Databank. While the company has seen solid growth in recent years for accessibly priced California labels like 1000 Stories and Bonterra, Fetzer is now devoting greater focus to its small but promising upscale range, including wines like Don Melchor, Marques de Casa Concha, and Bonterra’s Elysian Collection, and has set the goal for the super-premium and above segment to account for 20% of its business in the next three to five years.

Spearheading the effort is Stephanie Peachey, who was named vice president of Fetzer’s newly formed fine wine and spirits division earlier this year after previously leading brand strategy and direct-to-consumer at Kosta Browne. With wine consumers continuing to move upmarket, Peachey tells SND that Fetzer is well positioned to raise its profile in the $20-and-above tier.

At the top of the agenda are high-end Chilean offerings like Don Melchor, which was recently launched as a stand-alone brand in a bid to highlight the terroir of the Puente Alto vineyard in the upper Maipo Valley from which it’s sourced. Peachey says Don Melchor can be seen as a strong value in relation to other top-end wines from around the world, such as first-growth Bordeaux. “This is a luxury Cabernet of the highest quality that you can still pick up for $120,” she observes, adding that the value proposition is also key for the Marques de Casa Concha range. While the medium-term trend has been challenging, Chilean wines overall have seen some green shoots in the U.S. lately, with volume up 8% in IRI channels in the 24 weeks through September 8.

On the domestic side, Fetzer recently unveiled a new Elysian Collection under the Mendocino-based Bonterra Organic Vineyards brand, starting with an organic Merlot retailing at $25. Bonterra’s stable has also grown to include three biodynamic single vineyard wines—The Roost, The McNab, and The Butler—that are positioned from $55-$65. “Organic and biodynamic are areas that consumers are really starting to understand,” Peachey notes. “They’re becoming more savvy with what they’re drinking, just as they are with what they’re eating.” Paul Hobbs serves as consulting winemaker on Fetzer’s California wines.

Meanwhile, Fetzer has also expanded into spirits via a partnership with Kentucky Peerless, whose rye whiskey was awarded the No.-15 spot on Whisky Advocate’s Top 20 Whiskies of 2017. This year, Peerless unveiled its first Bourbon since its 2015 revival, and the cask-strength offering has already sold out, Peachey notes.—Daniel Marsteller

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